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Stretching before or After Workout?

I got this great question from a person on this bulletin board. I wanted to share what he asked, and hopefully clear up any confusion.


Hey Dr. Jen. I have noticed that you are adamant about stretching after a workout, never before. I am wondering why you give this advice?
I recently left a career in fitness/nutrition/injury prevention. I worked closely with NASM and ACSM. Based on information from ACSM and especially NASM, I always recommend stretching before a workout based on a postural analysis (stretching after a workout would be correct as well if desired). My reason for asking is to determine if you have information that I am unaware of. Thanks for your time.


Let's just start by saying- there are no absolutes ever. Different things work for different people. I learn new stuff every day.By no means do I know it all.

I hope I didn't mislead you. (Or anyone else) I must have not been clear. I don?t remember saying NEVER stretch before a workout. If I did- I am sorry.

Stretching is good. However- stretching cold muscle before working out is NOT good. It causes injuries. The muscles should be warmed up first, then go through active warm up/stretching, not static stretching at the beginning of the workout before warming up thoroughly.. Static Stretching should be left to the end of the workout...

One exception about static stretching is, that it appears that the calf muscle responds well to static stretching after 5-8 minutes of easy warm up.

Static Stretching elongates muscle fibers and reduces their ability to exert force for a short period of time. I believe this is because it slides filaments a bit past where they usually lie, and the cross bridges are then a bit misaligned. Then it takes a bit for the muscle fibers to re-set- as it were. If you then load the fiber heavily, immediately after stretching, it is more likely to tear. That is why I advise against stretching a given muscle group between sets, then going back and working it hard right afterwards.

Static Stretching is when you hold the stretch for, say a 15 count. Active stretching is when you move through a range of motion that you are about to use, slightly challenging a muscle?s length. This should not be ballistic or bouncy at all.

Therapeutically, I advise people, when it is the right time in their rehab- to heat, then stretch, then ice. That's kind of like the exercise thing: warm up (heat) the tissues, then move (stretch) and cool down/relax, let them tighten back up (ice).

Sorry for the confusion.

Dr. Jen Milus, DC
This message was edited by DrJen on 3-1-07 @ 12:21 PM